Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Janet Allen, Budburst citizen scientist; ourhabitatgarden.org.

Virginia bluebells

Scientific name
Mertensia virginica
Also Known As
Lungwort, Oysterleaf, Virginia cowslip
Plant Family
Plant Group
The distinctive bell-shaped flowers are bright sky-blue in color. Look for this striking flower in the moist woodlands of eastern North America.
Identification Hints

The distinctive bell-shaped flowers are bright sky-blue in color. Look for this striking flower in the moist woodlands of eastern North America.

Did You Know?

Virginia bluebells are pollinated by all kinds of long-tongued bees. The flower buds often are pinkish colored. The foliage often dies back by mid-summer when the plant begins to go into dormancy.

Leaves
Leaves are simple, alternate, large, 7 in (18 cm) long by 3 in (7.5 cm) wide, and oval shaped. Leaves are grey-green, entire (not toothed) and smooth, without any hairs. The veins are very conspicuous, and appear carved into the leaves in arch shapes. Leaves die back beneath the ground after the plant flowers.
Flowers
The buds of Virginia Bluebells start out reddish purple and become blue, trumpet-shaped flowers clustered at the ends of stems. Very rarely you might see a bluebell plant with white or pink flowers. They have a long corolla, or thin narrow tube of five fused petals, which flares out into a bell shape at the tip. Flowers are ¾ to 1 in long (2 to 2.5 cm). In the center, the five yellow tipped stamens barely reach the edge of the flower opening. Flowers bloom from April to May.
Fruits
Four tiny brown nutlets (seeds covered by a wrinkled stony layer) per flower.
Habitat
Virginia bluebells are usually found in moist, shady sites like wooded areas with rich soil. Quebec and Ontario, east to Maine, and south to the Gulf Coast.
States
AL, AR, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WI, WV